As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Saturday, February 2, 2013
iPray in One Accord
iPray eVotionals exhorts those who pray. It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.
iPray in One Accord
(Approximate reading time: 8 Minutes)
Getting in Tune
Last Fall my 4th grade daughter signed up to play the Clarinet in her school band. The first noises that emerged from that thing sounded like shrieks of pain. As the months have come along the shrieks have subsided and soft tones emerged. I watched her practice keeping her cheeks in, perfecting her fingering as well as timing and putting it all together into simple songs.
When my daughter's clarinet was hidden away in it's case, it was out of sight and out of mind; nothing got worked on. A while back her band teacher gave a 7 day challenge. To help my daughter succeed my husband ran out and purchased a clarinet stand. That way the instrument is out of it's case is a visual reminder not to mention easy access to practicing ALL seven days. She took on that challenge and passed! Everyday's practice allowed her to stay connected to the music and telling the story.
This past Tuesday was the band's first performance together. It was a night of beginner band students, each blowing their hearts out, inching their way through songs such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Jingle Bells. Ignoring the occasional shrieks and missed beats, smiles beamed from parents faces. They knew all the practice it took to get to this point. Every parent was aware of the first sounds that came out of the instruments months ago. Over time they listened to it transform into recognizable tunes. After each piece the audience gave a proud applause.
Later that evening I still held the proud parent glow. My daughter practiced hard on her own. She worked on every detail. I was impressed at her joining with other students that held the same determination to get it right and moved through months of practicing until they were ready to perform together. Ask any parent, and each one would say they heard beautiful progress and that yes, they were playing in one accord.
I wondered what someone off the street might think. Would they hold their ears? Would the missed beats drive them crazy? Would they perceive the coming together to play in one accord a beautiful thing? What a blessing it is that God is the ultimate judge of how we are doing, as our parent He knows exactly how hard we have worked to come to where we are. Yet, it is a blessing that we are not a finished product. That we are a work in progress. He brings us along and applauds us along the way. If we keep going, keep working it out, we will not end as beginner students.
Beautiful progress, day by day, with a goal to come together with the rest of the band and play beautiful music together. Each band performance better than the one before. Yes there are moments we might get chosen to play a solo or a duet, but this work is meant to come together to blend with others. We are meant to come together in one accord.
Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.
Praying as Beginners
A few days ago I was praying with a friend that attends the prayer group I host. She has been attending for a year and a half. Throughout the time I have noticed her prayers becoming increasingly spirit led. I decided to let her know that the growth in her prayer life is a blessing to me and I'm sure others as well.
My friend agreed that she has felt her prayers benefit from attending. She had always prayed on her own and in her own quiet head all kinds of beautiful things emerged. Praying out loud in front of others proved to be a different praying muscle all together. For most, praying out loud with others is done on occasion and the muscle is underdeveloped. This prayer group allowed her a space to pray out loud on a regular basis. Listening to others, absorbing scriptures that were prayed, learning to let God's spirit guide and as she put it, "Getting out of my head" every week caused her one-accord prayer muscle to become stronger.
"Who cares if it sounds stupid," my friend proclaimed, "It's still a prayer!"
She could have stayed in that safe place of praying exclusively on her own, but she kept coming back because she was blessed by the prayers and the unique feeling of talking to God in one accord with others. By coming back slowly her prayers matured and it has given her the opportunity to be used by God to bless others in huge ways!
"On facebook you always see people saying they will pray," my friend pointed out, "but it is nothing compared to the real connection that is made when you actually pray together."
When we consider ourselves beginners, God smiles at the beautiful progress. It's not just for the solos, He matures our prayer life and then gives us opportunities to share the gift of praying with and for others.
Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
Can you remember the first time you heard a live orchastra? In this short story Missy experiences a live orchestra for the first time. Because of it, Missy realizes what it means to be part of something big.
"Button up your shirt Ralphy... get your shoes on Sherry... come back here Candy... " Missy's mom hurried around trying to get 4 kids out the door. They were going to a concert where Missy's grandmother was going to play the violin...
Click to continue reading this 3 minutes short story.
Often when a new mom joins our prayer group she either says, "I don't know how to pray," or "I don't like to pray out loud."
"That is okay!" Is aways my response.
Agreeing in your heart is still agreeing and joining in one accord. I don't always know what to say either. Thank God we have a conductor who is drawing our attention in, so our eyes are on Him and His prompting and not on ourselves. Keeping prayer out of sight and out of mind breaks our connection, but the good news is our instrument is not locked up in a case. It's simply turning our attention upward.
There is a beautiful thing that happens when our eyes on are on the conductor, a little journey begins to find it's purpose. When shared with others blessings pour out. As my prayer life grew it became a privilege when God started nudging my heart to pray for and with others. I'm not going to lie, at first it felt different to pray with an audience; ears beyond the conductor's. I found that keeping one eye on my music (scriptures) and one eye on the Conductor (God's spirit) allowed me to be part of something big! I'm talking Pentecost big!
God knew that this instrument was meant to be used in one accord!
Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
In the fall of 2009 I asked a then acquaintance friend of mine if she was willing to get together to pray one hour once a week together. Instead of using that time to chat, we followed the guidelines found on the Moms in Prayer ministry; agreeing in one accord and using the format laid out in the Lord's Prayer. Adoration/Praise, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication/Intercession. Little did I know that my stepping out to ask was also an answer to her prayers as she had felt God was telling her that she needed a partner to intercede with. Two semi-polished praying women came together and for the next year "worked out" getting in tune by keeping our eyes off of ourselves, off of each other and on our conductor. Month by month our prayers became more like harmony to our ears and the hour zipped by.
At some point we realized that God was asking us to be more then a duet. He wanted us to be in an orchestra. He kept bringing in new instruments with new sounds and new styles. Each one required us to keep our eyes on the conductor to stay in tune with each other. Adding in even one new instrument made a difference. As we prayed in one accord the music got more full and more beautiful. We learned to use our sheet music, incorporating scripture so that the oneness did not come from popular opinion but from God's Word. We learned about that "still small voice" and to respond to it rather than our own opinions or thoughts.
Who can you pray with? Not just once, but who can you regularly come together with to pray in one accord? Can you step out in faith and ask a friend to commit to a weekly prayer gathering? Not an opening prayer and then a bunch of chit chat closing off the time with another prayer. A time where together you sit and praise God for who he is, confess sins, Thank God for what He does and then bring your requests to Him. Praying for each other with each other, agreeing in harmony in One Accord.
Our prayer lives are meant to be prayed out in an orchestra that is under God's direction.
Eccles. 4:9-12 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
iPray... that you will step out in faith, that you will pray in one accord with the oneness God intended.
iPray... that you will experience how God's spirit moves among us, see how God's power is unleashed and know how beautiful it is to be a part of something that is big.